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The Hope was deliberately sabotaged
The situation with the Groundbreaker and the Hope seems to form an unconscious parallel to the invented story of the Golgafrinchan Arks in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - multiple ark ships containing subsections of the overall population: an A Ark containing the best and the brightest, a C Ark carrying manual labourers, and a B Ark carrying the "unimportant" miscellany in the middle. In thes case, the Hope was the A Ark and the Groundbreaker a mixture of B and C.As part of the Halcyon Holding Corporation's plan for the colony, the passenger manifests of the two ships were filtered not by the "importance" of their job, but by personality type. Notice that even though the Hope was advertised as carrying scientists and other great thinkers, the Unplanned Variable's character creation process reveals them as a menial worker on the bottom rung of their career - however, depsite being a mere cashier, test-tube cleaner, or sports mascot (and possibly also as thick as two short planks), they are still wilful, resourceful, and go-getting enough to serve as our player character. If an entire starship of people like this had been awoken in Halcyon as advertised, it's not hard to imagine that the Board's little hypercapitalist paradise would never have got off the ground.

So, rather than risk the trouble of dealing with a population of doers and thinkers, the HHC set the Hope's skip drive to malfunction on purpose and either destroy the ship or leave it stranded in deep space, while they could get on with manipulating the Groundbreaker's passengers in peace - who, in contrast to the Hope, would be stocked with people more susceptible to their efforts to turn them into an unequestioning labour force. Fast forward a few decades and you end up with what is bascially a population of gullible, uncritical fools easily trammelled into shape by a shiny corporate-built society designed to churn out such sheep, with the handful of errant bright sparks ground down by social pressure and too isolated to make any real difference.

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  • As a corollary to the Golgafrincham comparison, the reason Earth has gone dark is because they've all died from a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

Felix Millstone is Chairman Rockwell's lost son
A stupid theory with not a whole lot of proof and a ton of speculation that might be a serious case of taking jokes too seriously, but bear with me telling you how great it'd be if it were true.

If you ask Felix about his past upfront, he'll tell you he's the illegitimate son of Chairman Rockwell - but some deduction and maybe a looksee through the "dumb" dialogue option will tell you he's just deflecting the question. Felix never knew either of his parents. He was an orphan in the back bays of the Groundbreaker, but think of the possibilities. Hell, he could be the Vicar's kid for all we know.

Felix's main issues are two: Problems with authority, and not belonging.

  • If Rockwell were to, say, impregnate a girl - does he look like the kind of guy to take care of his kid in Byzantium? He's a greedy bastard who'd rather take care of the purebloods than some halfblood he happened to help bring to the world. He'd probably drop him off somewhere and try to forget about the whole thing, so it's not like it's impossible.
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  • He desperately wants to belong and admits to Parvati that he did feel lonely, but that it was worth it to find his place in the crew. If you let him choose, he'll pick you above Harlow, saying that he can keep his crew because he's got a family with your crew. Whoever the "Millstones" were, they must have left him there for a reason. What if the person with whom he actually "belongs" was also the worst figure of authority he's always despised? What if the person who was supposed to give him any real good authority to look up to was...just a piece of corporate trash?
  • Think about how poetic it would be. You leave your own kid down on his luck, forget about him for many years. Eventually, however, the kid grows up - with some supressed anger, but hopeful. Naive, but daring. Your own son becomes a member of the small crew led by a frozen nobody who you also wanted to leave to rot, comes to you to dismantle your bullshit corporation you chose over him, and eventually kills or subdues you.
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  • Just imagine where the story would go if he really were Rockwell's son! Here's the person you already hated most. Someone bastardly and easy to hate - someone who you know is responsible for a good part of the suffering of many people and who you've been blaming all your feelings on for all your life. Now imagine if he came out and said that he was also not only undirectly, but directly responsible for leaving you alone and unprotected as a stowaway when he could have taken care of you really well. Imagine the complete contrast for him, watching a complete stranger (you/the unplanned variable) pick him up and take care of him so sincerely, giving him a home and a purpose when his own father couldn't even so much as look at him before abandoning him. Harlow abandoned him for some years, and he was forced to face the truth or pick a side. This event would probably permanently cement his feelings. Think about how his quest could go!
  • There's a slight chance that Rockwell recognized Felix, but Felix of course wouldn't recognize Rockwell. Rockwell immediately jumps on Felix's back saying he's a child who needs a babysitter, which is...normal for him considering that he has some kind of axe to grind with every single member of your party, who he has obviously heard of by now. But it's pretty curious that he caught on to this particular insecurity immediately. Might be a stretch; it has been many years after all. Would he even recognize him as his son if he were?
  • Rockwell - Millstone. Coincidence? Intentional? It could be, but what it actually means is up for debate. It could just be because of Felix's main goal being "Rebel against the board!" and it would make sense for a character who is this opposed to have a name that's a bit of a stealth joke/antithesis. (Side note, how did Felix get a last name, or a name for that matter? Did he choose it? Did someone choose it for him? Did he get dropped off somewhere with a letter? The answers to these questions would be key to solving the mistery, but unfortunately we can only guess.)

There is a possibility that there were originally more companion quests dealing with Parvati's mother and Felix's parents originally that were cut early in production for being too much trouble for Obsidian's budget and time constraints. I wouldn't mind this coming back in a DLC, though!

The Outer Worlds is a sequel to Fallout: New Vegas
Specifically if Robert House and his securitron army are victorious at the Second Battle of Hoover Dam. If one talks to the man, he'll express interest in colonizing other planets and star systems. New Vegas takes place in 2281, and The Outer Worlds takes place in 2355. That gives us seventy-four years between the games, and in the Outer Worlds, the Hope was stated to have been drifting through space for seventy. While the time-table House gives the Courier in New Vegas is much further out, estimating that colony ships would launch within a hundred years (a far cry from the four that the time between the games gives us), the scrapped original Fallout 3 (Fallout: Van Buren) from Black Isle studios would have featured a sub-plot that explained the Vault experiments were in preparation for the Enclave to leave the post-bomb Earth behind. This has been hinted at a few times since in the Fallout world, for instance the Vault-Tec: Among the Stars attraction in Nuka-World, but who's to say that House and the Courier don't stumble across remnants of this plan somewhere, cutting the time before a viable colonization program substantially? Or perhaps we already found what House needed without realizing it? Perhaps in the Big Empty?A few bits of knowledge to consider that could potentially support this connection:
  • Both Fallout and Outer Worlds have an event in the backstory known as "The Great War," but we don't know much about Outer World's Great War yet.
  • Both feature Alternate History in the backstory. Fallout diverged in a number of ways at varying points from our own timeline though the development of the transistor being delayed until the 2020's is one of the bigger ones. In Outer Worlds lore, President McKinley is never assassinated in 1901, meaning Roosevelt never broke up business trusts. There is nothing in the canon Fallout timeline to dispute this, and in fact Fallout features numerous large, influential corporations such as Nuka-Cola, Vault-Tec, and RobCo (the last one owned by Robert House no less!)
  • Power armor and energy weapons exist. Though Outer Worlds features the former as an ordinary suit of heavy armor that can be looted off marauders and lacks a requirement for Power Armor training. This makes sense because it appears to be more industrially oriented rather than for military usage. It could also have the servos removed, like the NCR salvaged armor.
  • Fallout lore has the Garden Of Eden Creation Kit that could be used to explain terraforming of worlds in Halcyon. Monarch's was obviously damaged, however.
  • RobCo actually acquired REPCONN Aerospace before the war. The Courier can help a group of Ghouls holed up in an abandoned RECONN launch facility leave the bigotry of humans on Earth in search of a home among the stars. Or blow them up on the launch pad. Player choice. This is relevant because House had the means to produce space capable ships since before the war, and had two hundred years between the war and the game to think about it.
Many of the characters are subconsciously suicidal
While this is overt in some of the characters, I believe many other characters in the game, including Sophia Akande and Chairman Rockwell are subconsciously suicidal.
  • You can be invited to meet with Sophia, in person, in her office, with no guards present because you already slaughtered them all during your previous trip to the offices. Being one of the most intelligent characters in the game, she had to know that inviting the person who went on a rampage through the streets of Byzantium was a risky idea. If you already killed the guards on that floor, she doesn't replace them. She has no armor, and can be taken out with a well placed head shot. Given that she knows the truth about the colony, it makes sense that she would be considering suicide on some level.
  • Whoever is controlling RAM in the final battle, after you defeat the robot, they don't try to run. They have no armor. They have a decent weapon, but are no match for you, and they don't even try begging you to spare them.
  • Unarmed NPC's will initially cower and run. However after combat ends, they just go back to whatever they were doing. This is rather unsettling in places like Byzantium, where you can slaughter all the guards in the ministry building, and the receptionist just goes back to her desk and continues her work. Could be scripting limitations, but it actually fits with this game's theme of work being more important than life and the sense of hopelessness.
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